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SCI survivor is first wheeler to grace the Oregon Shakespeare Festival stage

March 13, 2015

Regan Linton is a working actor whose social work infuses her theatrical performances. The 2002 Craig alumna will perform with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival throughout its 2015 season. 

Cast as the company’s first actor who uses a wheelchair, she’ll play the villain, Don John, in “Much Ado About Nothing”; the mysterious woman in Stan Lai’s “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land”; and understudy for a couple of Cleopatra’s gang in “Antony and Cleopatra.”

“Most people haven’t seen a professional wheelchair-using actor on stage. I’m thrilled to put my own spin on it,” Linton says. “Acting is entirely an exercise in empathy: being able to understand

someone else’s situation, without preconceptions, well enough to put yourself in his or her shoes/wheels and do the story justice. Having 90-plus minutes to share a story with an audience and inform their perspective on the world is truly a gift. I think it’s one of the greatest change-effecting mechanisms.”

Linton was a college student in 2002 when she emerged from a car accident in Los Angeles with a spinal cord injury. For four months, Craig Hospital was her home. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 2004, she moved back to Denver. For six years she was a peer mentor at Craig and served on the Board of Directors. She studied social work at the University of Denver and garnered three awards for her performances in Phamaly Theatre Company musical productions. She earned a master of fine arts in acting in 2013 from the University of California, San Diego, and began following the rigorous path of a working actor.

“At Craig, the therapists often say you’re going to be able to do anything you want in life, just differently. When I was in rehab, this seemed like a distant likelihood. It takes time, patience and fortitude to push through the change, pain and adaptation. But ultimately we’re survivors, and we can make this life anything we want it to be. Everyone I met at Craig helped me to realize that,” Regan says.